Printing/Production

Digital Photography Shortens Production Cycle
September 1, 2001

As a cataloger, you’re probably using digital photography for some, if not all, of your image creation. Digital photography offers great color and cost savings without the negative environmental impact of traditional film photography. Indeed, digital photography is fast and flexible. It helps you meet your customers’ changing preferences quickly, while shortening your time to market—whether you’re selling from a printed catalog or online. Is Technology the Problem? Early digital cameras were difficult to use, and quality was suspect. In a side-by-side film/digital test in the recently released Graphic Arts Technical Foundation’s (GATF) “Digital Photography Study,” the results show the latest generation of digital

Show Us Your True Online Colors
August 1, 2001

Customers will expect to see perfect color online by the year 2002, according to analysts at Forrester Research. Catalogers who are finally feeling comfortable with computer-to-plate and digital proofs now are facing the daunting task of achieving color perfection on their Web pages. Today’s online shoppers are demanding more from their online shopping experience, including color accuracy. A study from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Media Metrix shows that 83 percent of online shoppers distrust the colors on their monitors. Yet 80 percent of respondents said accurate color was “very important” when buying clothing, cosmetics, home furnishings and art online. More importantly, 50 percent of

Journey’s Catalog: Keepin’ It Real
August 1, 2001

Cool design and real-life models keep the Journeys catalog on the cutting-edge of teen fashion Taking a cue from MTV, the networks are filling their schedules with reality-based TV, especially after the success of “Survivor.” It’s easy. You don’t have to pay actors, write scripts or spend for big-time special effects. Just turn on the cameras. Viewers seem to have great interest in seeing real people in front of the lens. And one company has taken that ball and run with it into the catalog space. Officials at Journeys, a retail chain with more than 400 locations, launched their catalog during the 2000 holiday

Weigh Your Paper Options
July 1, 2001

While catalogs are worth more than the paper they’re printed on, there remains a continuous drive among catalogers, especially in this day of rising postal rates, to decrease paper costs. Indeed, reducing the basis weight is an easy way to shave hundreds of thousands of dollars off a catalog’s bottom line, says Jean O. Giesmann, vice president of creative services at Plow & Hearth. But as with any change in the look and feel of your catalog, changing paper is not something to be undertaken lightly. Following are some of the factors and their possible consequences to consider. Why Change? Two independent

Is Variable Data Printing Right for You?
June 1, 2001

An up-and-coming technology called variable data printing (VDP) offers catalogers a relatively easy and effective way to create highly personalized direct marketing pieces. VDP offers the ability to change text, graphics and even photographs from one printed piece to the next without stopping or slowing down the web press. As a result, these digital presses not only can personalize but also can customize information for each recipient, making one-to-one marketing easy. While VDP is not quite ready to create full-sized custom catalogs, it can deliver personalized mini-catalogs that offer superior response rates and increase loyalty, say experts. Presently, VDP is used mainly in

War Stories: Color House Tales
June 1, 2001

Midnight. Six people are huddled around a sink in the women’s restroom. Except for me, all are men. In this vast printing plant—ablaze with sulphur, neon and mercury lights—one pathetic 60-watt bulb is the only incandescent light we can find. Is my Christmas catalog cover green in ordinary room light (as intended) or silver? My sales rep peers through the gloom at a just-printed sample in my hand. “I could convince myself that’s green,” he says. Color-correct lights aren’t always the best for viewing color. They do ensure that everyone in the industry views proofs and printed samples under similar lighting conditions.

The Right Paper Can Save You Money
April 1, 2001

At the beginning of this year, the U.S. Postal Service increased “Standard A” bulk mailing rates up to 11 percent. Few catalog marketing companies were in a position to simply absorb the extra postage. The challenge facing them was how to mitigate such a significant cost increase. Fortunately, there are ways to optimize production costs and offset much of the cost of the postal rate hike. The Three “P’s” The three major cost components in producing a mail order catalog are postage, paper and printing. “Postage is basically a fixed cost, but paper and printing can yield significant cost efficiencies,” notes Andrew Hanscom

War Stories: Press Checks Across America
April 1, 2001

The dashboard clock glowed 1:17 a.m. Driving snow covered the expressway so completely that only the tracks of the car ahead identified the road. A truck blasted past, and I dropped in behind, hoping he knew the road better than I. My rental car’s wipers and defroster were overwhelmed—I was craning to see through a three-inch diameter clear spot in the glass. Should I pull off? No, I’d miss my press check. Thirty miles to go. A “press check” is when you fly to the catalog printing plant, examine the first press sheets off the press, and have the press crew make whatever

Where Planning Flows, the Work Will Follow
March 1, 2001

The catalog workflow process used to be comparatively simple. A cataloger lined up a typographer, photographer, and design production support; got quality output from a film company and finished up with a printer. It was a clean, linear process, albeit labor intensive, but in an era of digital printing, Web-based imaging and an explosion of activity in the customer channel all that has changed. Today’s high-tech, high-speed, highly-customized marketing environment requires vast changes in workflow for catalog development. There is no longer a magic formula or one-size-fits-all solution. Each catalog has unique needs that demand a singular process. There are some “true norths” in

Digital Printing Technology in Use
November 1, 2000

What comes after computer-to-plate (CTP) on the printing-technology horizon? That’s what Editor in Chief Alicia Orr asked you, our readers, in the September issue of Catalog Success. The answer we’ve heard from many quarters is direct-to-press (DTP), which means means the digital imaging of the plate on an offset press, whereas in CTP, the plate is done off press. As part of a digital workflow, both CTP and DTP eliminate film. Ira Gold, a digital workflow consultant in Rockaway, N.J., says that DTP has been slow to catch on, “We’re seeing a confluence of digital printing and digital imaging [DTP] technology.” A